Friday, July 25, 2014

The Silence 1963

Two sisters connected by bonds of love and hate are stranded in a country whose language they do not know. One of them is very ill and broods about dying: the second is equally consumed by desire. The multitude of hotel staff are a mute chorus, to better focus on the emotional drama of the sisters. Tanks rumble in the streets. This third of a so called trilogy is unclouded by philosophical musings, and is an unadorned study of human beings in a godless world. Sven Nyquist's photography captures the drama enacted on the canvas of the human face.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Through a Glass Darkly 1961

A family takes a vacation on a lonely island. The daughter, Karen, suffers from a mental illness, which  is predicted to lead to a slow and sure disintegration. Her younger brother, father and husband are the others in this drama. In this caricature of insanity, the question of meaning is raised. A kind of answer is also proposed in the final moments; love, he says, even if God is not there, can provide this meaning. Ebert in his Great Movie review, points out that it is in his power of portraying the human face that Bergman excels. A disadvantage of depending on subtitles is that things like this are relegated.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Winter Light 1962

A swiftly flowing stream, a train passing, are symbols of time passing. The film opens with an agonizingly prolonged church service, attended by half a dozen. All, including the priest, are doubters in their own way. A sailor shoots himself, unable to reconcile the reality of evil with god's existence. Even Christ, we are reminded, was assailed by doubt at his final moment. The black and white canvas of a frozen Scandinavian winter, bare trees and icy rivers, adorns this morose and beautiful film.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Straight Story 1999

Alvin Straight , somewhere in seventies, unable to drive, travels several hundred miles on a lawn mower to see his estranged brother, who has had a stroke. The journey takes him some months. This is a story of heroism, immediately reminiscent of Hemingway. On the way, we get to see endlessly sprawling corn fields, and some vivid encounters with good hearted people, who try to help the stubborn man in his eventful journey. A sensitive, uplifting, film, based on a true account.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

About Schmidt 2002

Schmidt (Nicolson) has just retired from an insurance company. Deprived of his lifelong routine, he is exposed to the desert of retirement, with all the time to complain and be miserable. This is an inconsequential film painting a bleak and depressing picture of life, of which the aging process is but a stage. Perhaps the truth is that he has long been senile. Schmidt evokes revulsion more than pity, to little purpose.